Altar Call - Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
December 6, 2009

Our artificial Christmas tree has served us well for 10 years

Shall we trim a “real” tree or use an artificial tree for Christmas? My wife and I pondered that question for many years. Most years we decided against an artificial tree.  But about ten years ago we opted for the convenience of the tree that can be taken apart and boxed up after Christmas. This week we assembled once again our aging, seven-foot artificial tree and it suits us fine.

The subject of Christmas trees can spark a good debate. Why destroy so many trees every year when our environment needs trees? We cut down a perfectly good tree, use it for a couple of weeks, and then discard it. To ease our conscience we recycle it to enrich the soil or toss it in a pond to make a bream bed. This makes little sense. But there is the tradition, and what is life without our traditions?

Grandpa walked out in the woods on a cold December day and chopped down a tree every year. We have always done it that way. It is quicker nowadays with a chain saw and it can be a nice "father-son" thing to go out to the farm and bring back a nice tree. Some people insist on having a "live" tree; they scorn the very idea of artificial trees. But what you have when you cut a tree down is a dead tree, not a live one. It simply looks alive for a few days. We even play the sadistic trick of putting the dead tree in water, making the tree think for a little while that it has a chance to survive. How cruel can we get?

Then there is the cost factor. Christmas trees cost more and more. Lately it is hard to find a good one for less than fifty dollars. The nice artificial trees can cost a hundred dollars or more. But my wife and I reason that over a period of ten years, our artificial tree has cost us less than ten  dollars a year. So we save money and save the environment at the same time.

But wait, we want life to be simple, right? Use the artificial tree and you must store it carefully each year and remember where it is. Use the cut tree and you simply throw it away; you don’t have to remember where you put it. That, it turns out, is much simpler than storing the artificial tree so that a year later you can find all the pieces. The older we get, the more difficult it is to find things that we have stored. One year the stand was missing; I had failed to store it in the box with the tree. 

Sometimes we have trouble deciding what to put on the very top of the tree. My wife likes angels, so she argues for an angel, a big angel. "I think the angel looks good there," she says; "what do you think?" I tell her I don’t believe any self-respecting angel would ever sit down on the top of a pine tree. She insists that the angel will love it so the angel stays put. 

This month we have decorated our 57th Christmas tree. That is a lot of trees to put up and take down. So we are thinking about not taking this one down. Why not leave it decorated just like it is? We may simply wrap a sheet around it and store the whole thing until next Christmas. We would save a lot of time, energy, and money. This would be simplicity at its best.

Next December we could merely undrape the tree, plug in the lights, hug each other, smile, drink hot chocolate, and sing "O Christmas Tree." The real challenge would be to remember where we stored it. That is not easy for two old folks who have trouble remembering where we put our glasses down. But it might be worth a try. + + +